Dr Nivedita Das Kundu writes: Russia-Pakistan bonhomie is increasing over the past few years. Russia and Pakistan during the last SCO summit at Ufa (Russia) on 10 July, 2015, signed the government to government level agreement to build a gas pipeline to Pakistan, which will ensure gas supplies to that country. This is going to be the first major bi-lateral project agreement signed between Pakistan and Russia in last forty years.[i] This clearly indicates the development of close cooperation between the two cold war-era adversaries (during the cold-war days Pakistan was in the anti-Soviet Union camp and was involved in the decisions taken for Soviet pull-out from Afghanistan in 1980s).[ii] This new move by Pakistan indicates strategic shift, where Pakistan is willing to move towards Russia and increase its partnership with Russia, in spite of US sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.[iii] This focuses on the change in the geopolitical equations and indicates Moscow and Islamabad’s increasing closeness with each other.
Rostech, (a subsidiary of the Russian state corporation) has agreed to build a pipeline that will carry gas to the cities in Pakistan. This project is estimated to cost $2.5 billion. The pipeline will extend almost 1100 kms from Karachi, in the southern Pakistan to Lahore in the north-east.[iv]This gas pipeline project is expected to be ready for operation by the year 2017. However, the agreement mentioned very categorically that Russian companies have to be given the contract to build the pipeline. The construction of the pipeline will include technology, the materials, equipment and products of Russian make. Further, the agreement also mentions that Russian research design and construction organizations will also be involved in this project.[v] However, the pipeline will be controlled by Pakistan.
Pakistan is a lucrative gas market for Russia. At the same time, Russia can help Pakistan to tackle its energy crisis.[vi] In early 1970s, Russia supported Pakistan for developing Oil and Gas Company in Pakistan, which is still using Old Russian machinery in exploring oil and gas.[vii] Pakistan is currently working on two Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline projects, first is south pipeline project (from Karachi to Lahore) with the support of Russia and the second is Gwadar pipeline project with the support of China as an alternative to the shelved Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project.[viii] Nowadays, Russia is also looking for new friends and markets in the wake of the Western sanctions.[ix]Hence, this energy project will help both Russia and Pakistan and can be considered as a win-win situation for both the Nations.
[i]Kuchma Anna, “Russia Pakistan Energy Cooperation”, Russia-India Report, 12 August 2015. Also See Kommersant and Gazeta.ru.
[ii] “Pakistan and Russia get closer with potential pipeline deal”, Geo-pipelitics Examining the intersection of energy and geopolitics, April 15, 2015, available at http://www.geopipelitics.com/?p=1169, (accessed on 10thAugust 2015)
[iii] “Energy-starved Pakistan is likely to sign $2 billion pipeline deal with Russia”, PTI , Jun 29, 2015, available athttp://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/Shanghai-Cooperation-Organisation,(accessed on 11thAugust 2015)
[iv] “Russia to Finance a $2 Billion LNG Pipeline in Pakistan”, Oilandgas360 June 30, 2015, http://www.oilandgas360.com/russia-to-finance-a-2-billion-lng-pipeline-in-pakistan/, (accessed on 13thAugust 2015)
[v] “Russia to Offer Pakistan Contract for Construction of Gas Pipeline”, Sputnik News, available at
http://sputniknews.com/business/20150807/1025497202.html#ixzz3ijJX11,(accessed on 13thAugust 2015)
[vi] “Russia to Lend Pakistan $2 Billion for Gas Pipeline Construction”, Sputnik News, April 18, 2015
http://sputniknews.com/asia/20150418/1021065550.html#ixzz3ijJyVzO7,(accessed on 13thAugust 2015)
[vii] Bhutta Zafar,”Deepening Partnership: Pakistan Looks to Russia for Satisfying Energy Demand”, The Express Tribune, June 29, 2015, available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/911487/deepening-partnership-pakistan-looks-to-russia-for-satiating-energy-demand/, (accessed on 4th August 2015)
[viii] Sharma Rajeev, “Russia to invest $2 bn into building energy pipeline in Pak: Is India ready for the challenge?”, First Post, April 20, 2015 , available at http://www.firstpost.com/world/russia-to-invest-2-bn-into-building-energy-pipeline-in-pak-is-india-ready-for-the-challenge-2202634.html,(accessed on 12th August 2015)
[ix] “Pakistan, Russia Sign $1.7 Billion Energy Deal”, The Hindu, December 23, 2014.